About the Foundation

The Susan McKinnon Foundation was established in 2015 by Sophie Oh and Grant Rule to make a positive and enduring contribution to the Australian community. The Foundation is named after Grant’s mother, who instils the values of service and positive contribution in those around her.

Starting from nothing, Grant built Australia’s largest SMS technology business. Following the billion-dollar sale of that business in 2021, Sophie and Grant committed the majority of their wealth to philanthropy and expanded the Foundation.

Drawing upon their own experiences working in the public and private sectors, Sophie and Grant decided the best way to make a lasting difference to Australia was to help to enhance the capability and effectiveness of our democratic institutions and government.

Sophie and Grant believe that through smarter decision making, improved policy development and better service delivery, governments at all levels in Australia can create a society that is fairer, more prosperous, and has greater opportunity for all.

Reflecting Susan McKinnon’s attitude to life, the Foundation takes a positive, practical and patient approach to creating these long-term improvements. It acts as an incubator, funder and implementor of bold ideas and long-term transformational initiatives to improve our governments and democracy. Its work is driven by evidence, not ideology, data not rhetoric. The Foundation is non-partisan. It partners with people and organisations with good ideas driving positive results, regardless of political affiliation.

At present the Foundation’s major funding and partnering initiatives include The McKinnon Institute for Political Leadership, the McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership, and the e61 economic research institute amongst others.

Our People

Our Advisors

Sir Bill English

Mr. Colin Galbraith AM

Prof. Rod Glover

Hon. Pru Goward AO

Mr. Michael Schoenfeld

Prof. Peter Shergold AC

Prof. John Thwaites AM

Sir Bill English

Advisory Board

“Politicians need to understand how the political and policy system work, to get better results for their constituents. Effective politicians will also have the confidence needed for reforms that improve performance of the economy in the public service.”

Mr. Colin Galbraith AM

Board of Directors (SMRC, SMCF)

“Australians have increasing cynicism about our public institutions where too often clever politics substitutes for robust policy development and where box ticking and preoccupation with process leads to myopia and lethargy trumping effective public service.”

Prof. Rod Glover

Research Committee

“Behind diminished public trust sits a desire for more effective and legitimate government. To realise this desire, we must support people to lead and partner well, as the basis of steadily building impact and trust.”

Hon. Pru Goward AO

Research Committee

“SMF’s decision making and project management must meet the highest standards of governance. Every dollar must be accounted for and aligned with the Foundation’s goals. The sharp eyes of the Foundation’s advisors are fundamental to this task.”

Mr. Michael Schoenfeld

Board of Directors (SMF, SMRC, SMCF)

“SMF seeks a collaborative and dynamic approach to arrest the decline – by developing high quality public leadership, dialogue, policy development and delivery and accountability.”

Prof. Peter Shergold AC

Advisory Board, Research Committee (Chair)

“Australians are losing trust in the effectiveness and integrity of government. We need to significantly enhance the way parliamentarians, ministers, ministerial advisers and public servants operate and work together in the interests of their citizens.”

“The SMF aims to connect evidence about what works to promote better government with the people who make the decisions that matter.”

Our Founders

Sophie Oh

Co-founder

“At Susan McKinnon Foundation, we recognise the pivotal role that governments play in our lives. As such, we are committed to strengthening the capability, integrity, and decision-making of governments, while fostering a strong democratic society.”

Grant Rule

Co-founder

“Australia is a wonderful country that has benefited significantly from courageous, long sighted policy decisions of our political leaders. We have established SMF to support our governments to be highly effective and to contribute to strengthening our precious democracy.”

Our Team

Sam Mellett

Matt Crocker

Polina Kovac

Rhys Campbell

Rachel Maguire

Daniel Morris

Lisa Crooymans

Winnie Li

Matt Crocker

Strategic Advisor

Polina Kovac

Program Manager

Rhys Campbell

Research and Policy Manager

Rachel Maguire

Research and Policy Manager

Daniel Morris

Chief Financial Officer

Lisa Crooymans

Financial Controller

Winnie Li

Senior Financial Accountant

Interested in joining our team? Explore current opportunities.

Our Ethos

Practical

We pursue improved governance through tangible change. Our approach is pragmatic and business-like. We are optimistic and realistic.

Rigorous

Our work is robust, evidence-based and expert-driven. We test, evaluate, adapt and then partner to scale. We act on facts, not ideology.

Transparent

We believe transparency matters – for government and for us.

Non-partisan

We are politically neutral, bringing together people from all sides of politics to cooperate for improvement.

Entrepreneurial

We innovate, apply business skills and hold ourselves accountable.

Bold

We are unafraid to take on difficult subjects and challenge conventional wisdom.

Long-term

We play the long game while breaking down our work into feasible incremental steps.

Practical

We pursue improved governance through tangible change. Our approach is pragmatic and business-like. We are optimistic and realistic.

Rigorous

Our work is robust, evidence-based and expert-driven. We test, evaluate, adapt and then partner to scale. We act on facts, not ideology.

Transparent

We believe transparency matters – for government and for us.

Non-partisan

We are politically neutral, bringing together people from all sides of politics to cooperate for improvement.

Entrepreneurial

We innovate, apply business skills and hold ourselves accountable.

Bold

We are unafraid to take on difficult subjects and challenge conventional wisdom.

Long-term

We play the long game while breaking down our work into feasible incremental steps.

Financial Reports

Program Expenditure Report 2023

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2023

Financial Report 2023

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2023

Financial Report 2023

Susan McKinnon Research Centre
June 30, 2023

Program Expenditure Report 2022

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2022

Financial Report 2022

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2022

Financial Report 2022

Susan McKinnon Research Centre
June 30, 2022

Program Expenditure Report 2021

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2021

Financial Report 2021

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2021

Financial Report 2020

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2020

Financial Report 2019

Susan McKinnon Foundation
June 30, 2019

Our Funding

The Susan McKinnon Foundation (SMF) is independently funded by Grant Rule and Sophie Oh. The SMF entities have a significant investment in Redbridge Capital Trust. Redbridge Capital Pty Ltd (RedCap), a related party to SMF, is the investment manager.

The investment manager charges a management fee of 0.65% p.a. which third-party analysis has shown is below market. RedCap provides a cash rebate of 0.15% to SMF, reducing the net fee paid by SMF to 0.5% p.a.

In addition to these services, RedCap provides accounting and finance services to SMF. These services are charged at cost. Furthermore, the director of RedCap has pledged that all profits that are in excess of RedCap’s medium-term funding requirements will be donated to SMF.

Our founders Grant Rule and Sophie Oh donate their time to the running of the Foundation and receive no material benefit from the charitable entities.